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November-December 2018 Issue

Monthly Teaching Resources Password

Digital subscribers may scroll to the bottom of this post to access the current Teaching Resources password. Published bimonthly (in print or digital access), Nurturing Faith Journal is an autonomous, national journal offering thoughtful analysis, inspiring features and helpful resources for Christian living. With abundant original content found nowhere else, this high-quality, 64-page magazine focuses on timely […]

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Worth Repeating

“If you’re asking yourself, ‘How in the hell can I be happy in retirement?’ I say, try a little heaven.” Financial planner Wes Moss, whose national survey of thousands of retirees showed that religious practice enhances happiness (Atlanta Journal-Constitution) “All American Christians must work together these days to distinguish religious liberty from religious privilege.” Church […]

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Using the Bible to avoid Jesus

It is a seemingly odd thing to do: to express a strong commitment to biblical truth as a way of avoiding Jesus. Yet that is precisely what many fundamentalist-evangelical leaders are doing. A prime example comes from pastor Robert Jeffress of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas, who is much in the news as […]

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Sacred Landscapes

Religion and the American West Far upon the plains of Wyoming is the Old West town of Medicine Bow, a tiny community of some 300 people. In this remote locale I lived one summer as a young man. Founded in 1869, Medicine Bow, Wyo., in the early 20th century boasted two saloons, a general store […]

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Nature & nurture

Adventure meets inspiration in shared, small-group experiences It has become something of a mantra: “We don’t do tours; we provide shared experiences.” There’s no herding a large group in matching T-shirts, or meals of rubber chicken with banquet bullets (green peas); no memorized tour commentary, but instead thoughtful insights and personal engagement. Since 2014 many […]

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Leaders come to peace with the pruning

Nine years ago the Spirit whispered to me, “Trust me. I am calling you to Trinity. And I will prune you.” Pain, not pleasure, seemed to control the pruning metaphor of John 15:2. Because it was a Jesus teaching, I said “yes” to the pruning by moving from Louisville to San Antonio. This is a […]

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THEOLOGY IN THE PEWS: The church as a foretaste of the kingdom

In addition to its calling to be a sign and instrument of the kingdom of God, the church is sent into the world by Jesus (John 20:21) to be the dwelling place of the Spirit as a foretaste of that kingdom. The Spirit is given to the church to empower it for participation in God’s […]

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REBLOG: Unless we stop saying ‘unless’

Here am I, Lord, send me… Unless it’s to Africa or the Middle East or some other faraway place. After all, God, I don’t know the language or the culture. And what about my safety? Some of these places are dangerous. Here am I, Lord, send me… Unless it’s to the hospital to visit the […]

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THE LIGHTER SIDE: Gracia a Dios por gente amable

(Thank God for kind people) A month ago two of our favorite people visited from Texas. We loved having them here, but they are really friendly. That they are not New Yorkers was most evident on the subway. Our friends get on the train, sit across from each other, and begin a conversation. At first […]

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CLASSIFIEDS

Minister for Adult Discipleship: Providence Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C., is seeking a full-time minister for adult discipleship who has a passion for educating, equipping and leading adults in their spiritual journeys as disciples of Jesus Christ. A full job description and more information about our church are available at providencebc.org/connect/employment/. Submit résumés to ministersearch@providencebc.org […]

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DIGGIN’ IT: What does DNA say?

Ancient bones and modern science combine to tell surprising stories Two recent stories highlight the growing role of DNA analysis in archaeology. One of them offers a reminder that Israel — a land bridge between Africa, Asia and Europe — has always been a land of migrants. In 1995, a large karstic cave (one formed […]

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Six Gifts

Quaker writer Parker Palmer offers insights into aging There’s no shortage of advice these days about aging, but in our culture, most of that advice seems to be about how to deny that it’s happening. Dye your hair, bleach your teeth, learn about Snapchat and eat more antioxidants. Parker Palmer’s new book, On the Brink […]

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Matthew & Migration

Reading the birth story of Jesus in new light The power of the gospel narratives concerning Jesus’ birth may easily escape us when we read them while enjoying Christmas cheer amid jingling bells and twinkling lights. We cherish them as favorite stories while giving them little serious thought. Yet, meditating on these texts, especially in […]

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Calling the church to battle opioid addiction

Evil comes in two forms according to theologian Fisher Humphreys. First, there are actions we take that are knowingly wrong — that we are free to not take, but do anyway. These are actions sins. For these actions, the church proclaims we are to preach repentance and forgiveness. As followers of Jesus, we are to […]

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RELIGION AND THE AMERICAN PRESIDENTS: Calvin Coolidge (1923–1929)

From lofty perches in urban towers East and Midwest, American capitalists in the summer of 1923 cast their collective gaze upon a new promised land of financial profits. Even the unexpected death of Republican President Warren G. Harding, a pro-business chief of state who had cut tax rates for wealthy individuals, failed to cast a […]

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‘Are you saved?’

What the Bible does and doesn’t say about salvation There are people who want salvation but sometimes wonder if they are truly saved. They may review their conversion experience to be sure it was genuine. They may be baptized more than once. They may worry about whether they have properly followed the “plan of salvation.” […]

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Why do ‘nones’ avoid religious identification?

One of the most talked-about trends in American religion today is the growing number of persons who say they are religiously unaffiliated. But, why do they claim no religious identity? Pew Research Center took that question to more than 1,300 so-called “nones” to better understand the reasons behind their lack of identification with any particular […]

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Speaking God

A conversation with Jonathan Merritt about spiritual conversations With his new book, Learning to Speak God from Scratch: Why Sacred Words are Vanishing — and How We Can Revive Them (Crown Publishing Group), Jonathan Merritt is advancing a conversation about spiritual conversations. So, this timely conversation is adapted from an interview with Merritt, a popular […]

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Lament and Light

Losing patience with the slow train of justice, but not hope The first time a Kate Campbell CD landed in my inbox, in 2001, it stayed there until a convincing publicist called weeks later to follow up. Leaving the office I grabbed the hymns-plus-original-songs CD, Wandering Strange, and played it in my car. The moving […]

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Questions Christians ask scientists: Why do some people think the earth is flat?

“The world, I believe, is honestly flat.” Thus did “Mad” Mike Hughes, a California limousine driver, explain why he launched himself 1,875 feet above the Mojave Desert in his homemade steam-powered rocket. The feat, performed on March 24 of this year, took him another step toward his ultimate goal of rising so high that he […]

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Through the year, at the end of the year

The poet Maya Angelou said, “I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.” To early Christians, Paul quoted the words of Jesus: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Most of us know those truths. We have spent our lifetimes embracing the important role […]

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September-October 2018 Issue

Monthly Teaching Resources Password

Digital subscribers may scroll to the bottom of this post to access the current Teaching Resources password. Published bimonthly (in print or digital access), Nurturing Faith Journal is an autonomous, national journal offering thoughtful analysis, inspiring features and helpful resources for Christian living. With abundant original content found nowhere else, this high-quality, 64-page magazine focuses on timely […]

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read more

Worth Repeating

“The very meaning of the phrases ‘religious liberty’ and ‘religious freedom’— traditionally understood as referring to the right of Americans to practice whatever faith they wish or no faith at all — is being altered to mean that government should foster a closer relationship with those who want to mix their Christian faith with taxpayer […]

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EDITORIAL: Perils of preaching in politicized times

Hit-and-run sermons, as I call them, are risk free. This is mostly the type of preaching I do: being invited to fill in for a pastor on occasion. There’s no real relationship with the congregation beyond basic pleasantries and my speaking and their listening. A check from the church treasurer is the limited transaction. And […]

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How good are we?

Christian Miller talks about our messy mix of virtues and vices WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Last year Oxford University Press released Christian Miller’s important book, The Character Gap: How Good Are We? The A.C. Reid Professor of Philosophy at Wake Forest University and director of the Character Project, Miller also has written two academic books on […]

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‘Life is not over’

Writer shares honest, insightful journey of widowhood Ella Wall Prichard didn’t set out to someday write a book about navigating widowhood. In fact, she admits being quite unprepared for this stage of life thrust upon her when her husband Lev died in 2009. “Nothing prepared me for widowhood, “ she confesses in Reclaiming Joy: A […]

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What counts as a tithe?

Opinions vary among churchgoers about giving practices, expectations Most Protestant churchgoers believe that giving 10 percent of their income is a biblical requirement they should follow — but they define the practice of tithing in a variety of ways, a new survey shows. About half say they can give their tithes to a Christian ministry […]

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We need the church

Sixteen persons gathered at Fletcher’s Schoolhouse on June 9, 1843 and founded First Baptist Church of Murfreesboro, Tenn. The church came into being because 16 persons could see what was not yet there and brought their vision to life. Such a pattern played out repeatedly over the course of the church’s history, as the church […]

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THEOLOGY IN THE PEWS: The church as an instrument of the Kingdom

The church is sent into the world by Jesus (John 20:21) in order to continue his work in the power of the Spirit. While it is certainly true that God is at work outside of the church, the New Testament characterization of the church as the body of Christ leads to the conclusion that it […]

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REBLOG: Increasing our intentional interaction

As Mom and I walked toward the door of the cancer center, a woman greeted us with the most beautiful smile and a warm “hello.” Her eyes radiated joy and, somehow, I felt her empathy and compassion extend through her words as she asked how we were doing. After Mom’s appointment we went to lunch […]

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THE LIGHTER SIDE: Money can buy happiness, but you have to spend it right

Groucho Marx said, “While money can’t buy happiness, it certainly lets you choose your own form of misery.” One of your college roommates — not the one you like, the other one — the one whose job you would love to have, the one who makes three times as much as you, the one who […]

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CLASSIFIEDS

Minister to Children and Families: First Baptist Church in Huntsville, Ala., is seeking a full-time minister to children and families. This ministerial staff position is responsible for the spiritual development of children in grades 1-6. Located in North Alabama, we are geographically situated in the heart of downtown Huntsville and have a heart for ministry […]

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Chase and the persistence of grace

Like many churches, Trinity Baptist Church in Seneca, S.C., often selects one Sunday a year for a “youth-led service.” Students plan the service, read scripture, sing songs, lead prayers, all that normally happens in a worship setting. Our tradition for the past few years is to give the seniors of the bunch an opportunity to […]

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When leaders fail

People of faith need trusted relationships with mature Christians. Mentoring and modeling have been a key aspect of spiritual formation from the earliest days, with even Paul encouraging the Corinthian Christians to “follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). Biblical principles remain abstract unless we see them incarnated in […]

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New models

Baptist churches are rethinking ordination Being ordained for ministry is now a simple, free, five-minute process at getordained.org. Its website notes: “The Universal Life Church offers the world a convenient, nondiscriminatory process that allows anyone to utilize the Get Ordained™ online tools to receive his or her certification, bypassing the traditional ‘brick and mortar’ religious […]

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DIGGIN’ IT: Holy Dirt

Divinity students discover academic and spiritual benefits in archaeological dig KIBBUTZ YIZRE’EL, ISRAEL — Students preparing for ministry often long to visit the land of the Bible, and find it to be a meaningful, inspiring, and sometimes life-changing experience. Walking where Jesus walked, naming mountains known to the patriarchs, standing in the Sea of Galilee […]

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Why? What? When?

Questions and answers about advancing a Jesus Worldview The evolving Jesus Worldview Initiative, guided by Nurturing Faith in collaboration with others, was not the result of long-range, strategic planning. Rather it resulted from a rude awakening to the stark reality that the life and teachings of Jesus are largely absent from American evangelicalism. For more […]

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RELIGION AND THE AMERICAN PRESIDENTS: Warren G. Harding (1921–1923)

Labor unrest. Xenophobia. Ethnic hatred. Fears of Russian conspiracies. One year following U.S. leadership in the 1918 defeat of Germany during World War I, Americans turned upon one another. The year 1919 evolved into what labor historian Eric Foner refers to as “one of the most militant in United States labor history.” More than 3,600 […]

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Losing their religion

Younger adults are less religious, and not only in the US There are few spots around the world where parents don’t have to drag their young adult children to worship: Ghana, a predominantly Christian county is one; Chad, a predominantly Muslim country, is another. In both African nations, younger adults are 3 percentage points more […]

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Why millennials are really leaving religion

A couple of decades ago, when young adults began showing their dissatisfaction with organized religion by voting with their feet, it was fashionable for pundits to say this was happening because those religions weren’t conservative or demanding enough. Because the exodus was initially most pronounced among liberal, mainline Protestants like Episcopalians and Presbyterians, it was […]

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REBLOG: Why ‘But the Bible says . . .’ can ring so hollow

It doesn’t mean much to say one believes the Bible. Just consider all the conflicting and often awful stuff said over the centuries, and even recently, by those claiming biblical authority. Not surprising, there are many people who reject the Bible without ever reading it because of its widespread misrepresentation by those seeking some divine […]

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‘Jesus Rode A Dinosaur’

Exploring what churches tell teens about science EDINA, Minn. — Growing up a conservative Southern Baptist, Mike McHargue loved science. He would drive his youth pastor and Sunday school teachers “insane,” he said, with difficult questions in his quest to reconcile his faith with science. Eventually, his youth pastor handed him a book, said McHargue, […]

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King of Jordan honored with Templeton Prize for fostering Muslim cooperation

King Abdullah II of Jordan has won the 2018 Templeton Prize for promoting dialogue and cooperation between Muslims of differing traditions. Abdullah, king of Jordan since 1999, “has led a reclamation of Islam’s moderate theological narrative from the distortions of radicalism,” the John Templeton Foundation said June 27. The annual prize honors “a person who […]

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Questions Christians ask scientists

What is Intelligent Design, and what do you think of it? —Douglas Rawls, Atlanta, Ga. I am opposed to Intelligent Design. To explain why, I’d like to introduce my favorite scientist. Johannes Kepler was born in 1571 in Weil-der-Stat, a small village in modern-day Germany. He was brilliant, brave, self-assured, honest, creative and ever hopeful. […]

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Together, we can do more with more

There is value in doing “more with less” as the old saying goes. We know that firsthand at Nurturing Faith — the now well-branded and expanded publishing ministry of Baptists Today, Inc. Fast-changing technology and cultural shifts in recent years have afforded new opportunities to be grasped. On those rare occasions when I reflect rather […]

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July-August 2018 Issue

Worth Repeating

“If any ministry is biblical, it is prison ministry.” Travis Collins, pastor of First Baptist Church of Huntsville, Ala. (EthicsDaily) “Rather than bemoaning the fact that there are a lot of older folks in the church, take advantage of them…They long to make connections and to make a difference.” Mike Queen of the Center for […]

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Stumbling over rocks and other obstacles to faith

In my youth, whenever persons of influence wanted to add a restriction to our already restrictive code of personal ethics, and no clear biblical prohibition was at hand, they would turn to Romans 14. The emphasis was on “stumbling block” in verse 13 — followed by Paul’s words about not eating meat. It was presented […]

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Still celebrating

Ragan Courtney on the long artistic trail of life SANTA FE, N.M. — “I wanted to be Roy Rogers,” said playwright and poet Ragan Courtney, sitting comfortably in the Santa Fe home he and his wife, singer Cynthia Clawson, moved into earlier this year. Over cups of coffee he told of growing up thoroughly Southern […]

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Expansive world, expanding faith

Nature nurtures belief in a bigger God says scientist/columnist Paul Wallace WAIMEA, Hawaii — The skies didn’t cooperate as well as we hoped for the Nurturing Faith Experience to the Big Island of Hawaii in March, but the group shared remarkable explorations of nature and expanded understandings of the divine creator. “There has always been […]

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Common Grounds

COFFEE COUNTY — Bruce Gourley of Bozeman, Mont., points to a coffee-themed directional sign at Kauai Coffee in Hawaii that includes the rural county 4,678 miles away where he grew up in South Georgia. Photo by John D. Pierce. History of coffee brews up a blend of beans and beliefs KONA, Hawaii — During our […]

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Being church in changing times

Reflections on a pastoral care failure A column provided in collaboration with the Center for Healthy Churches (chchurches.org) Let me begin by getting to the hardest part — at least as far as my pride is concerned: Some time ago, when a family in one of the churches I served went through a gut-wrenching ordeal, […]

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Remembering James Cone, ‘powerful testifier and storyteller’

On April 28, my birthday, I awoke to well wishes from friends and family. But the day wasn’t very old when someone posted on Facebook about the death of James Cone. Like others touched by his life and writings, I spent a few moments crying over the loss. Later, I re-read passages from some of […]

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THEOLOGY IN THE PEWS: The Church as a sign of the Kingdom

The church is sent into the world by Jesus (John 20:21) to bear God’s image as a sign of the Kingdom of God, a visible community that bears in its own life the presence of God’s coming reign. This notion is connected with the idea that humans are created in the image of God. However, […]

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REBLOG: The Sunday challenge

In just a couple of hours my house will most likely look as though something exploded. How do I know? Because it happens almost every week. Tiny shoes will be dumped out of the basket and onto the floor of the closet in an attempt to find matches. Clothes will be strewn in the bedroom […]

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THE LIGHTER SIDE: Yikes! Yelp

Perhaps I am being defensive, but I do not believe that our church’s three reviews on Yelp are a fair indicator of who we are as a congregation. Mike O. writes, “There were all these signs about puttin cell phones away and such. When I entered, I could have sworn I’d seen the inside of […]

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CLASSIFIEDS

Minister to College Students and Young Single Adults: Calvary Baptist Church (calvarybaptistchurch.com), located in downtown Lexington, Ky., two blocks from the University of Kentucky, is seeking a full-time minister to college students and young single adults. Calvary is a growing faith community of approximately 1,500 resident members who are deeply committed to maintaining a ministry […]

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RECOGNITION & REMEMBRANCE

Ka’thy Gore Chappell is the first executive director of Baptist Women in Ministry of North Carolina, effective July 1, coming from the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina where she served as coordinator of leadership development. Priscilla Eppinger was inducted into the Martin Luther King Jr. College of Ministers and Laity at Morehouse College in […]

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Generation to generation generosity

From Genesis to Revelation the biblical message is one of God’s people being called to live in the present — but also to positively impact the next generation. From Deuteronomy’s Mosaic proclamation to God’s people on how to live the ancient covenant in a land that Moses would not enter to Jesus blessing his followers […]

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Gun violence deserves better response from faith communities

Having never considered myself a political person, I generally favor innocuous topics such as music, college football or baseball trivia. Typically, my introverted nature causes me to avoid controversy at the risk of offending someone or casting myself in an unwanted spotlight. However, I feel compelled to speak out although my message poses the risk […]

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Finding connections

Is the God of the Bible the God of the universe? I believe that the God of the Bible is the God of the universe. But what connections are there between biblical beliefs about God and scientific understanding of the universe? Summarizing what the Bible has to say about God is extremely challenging. After reading […]

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REBLOG: What does it mean to believe in God?

“It’s good that you believe that God is one. Ha! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble with fear.” Rather than using the more-commonly translated “Good!” or “Good for you!” the Common English Bible (CEB) renders as the middle line in James 2:19 the well-communicated English term, “Ha!” That verse came to mind when […]

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Counting what counts with Nelson Morgan

ROSWELL, N.M — This New Mexico town may be best known for a 1947 UFO incident that flooded the area with conspiracy theories rather than green aliens. However, my drive here through wide-open plains was to visit a remarkable man whose support and encouragement I’d long appreciated — but someone I’d never met. Morgan Nelson […]

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DIGGIN’ IT: Is this Isaiah’s autograph or the seal of another?

Has a lump of clay bearing the prophet Isaiah’s personal seal been discovered in Jerusalem? Maybe; maybe not. Archaeologist Eilat Mazar, in a Biblical Archaeology Review tribute article to retiring editor Hershel Shanks, recently described a clay bulla found in the “City of David” excavations, suggesting that it might reflect the personal seal of Isaiah […]

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Former inmate becomes minister of healing

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — “I know what it’s like to be an outcast,” Charlyne Boyette told her ministry ordination council at First Baptist Church of Asheville. She identifies herself as a person in long-term recovery, a representative of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, an ambassador of reconciliation, a messenger of hope, and a minister of healing. […]

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RELIGION AND THE AMERICAN PRESIDENTS: Woodrow Wilson (1913–1921)

Divisions and distrust hovered over American politics in the summer of 1912. From the left, progressives — represented by the Democratic and Progressive (Bull Moose) parties, the latter led by former Republican President Theodore Roosevelt — focused on using the expansive levers of government to extend rights, protections and assistance for ordinary Americans. Political policies […]

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Timely conversation

Melissa Rogers talks about working in and out of government to advance religious liberty WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Religious liberty advocate Melissa Roger received the 18th annual Judson-Rice Award from Nurturing Faith Publishing. She is a nonresident senior fellow in governance studies with the Brookings Institution and a member of Columbia Baptist Church in Falls Church, […]

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YWH 9145

While unsure about the last four numbers, I am positive about the first three letters: YWH. They were on the license plate on the car in front of me at a stoplight. The car was soon lost in traffic, but my mind has been whirling ever since: YWH 9145! Those who know something of Judaica […]

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Questions Christians ask scientists

What does science have to do with my day-to-day faith? The war between science and religion gets a lot of press, but many people — believers and nonbelievers alike — think the two do not overlap. In this view, science and faith are like strangers who live in different neighborhoods, invest in different communities, and […]

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